DIY Guides

I love my Rick Steves and Lonely Planet guidebooks — why do I need this too? How is this different?

Books are a wealth of information but they’re 250 pages long! By chapter 5 you’ve gone from excited, to feeling a little “deer in the headlights”. Right? My report gives you all the different pieces you need– lodging, transportation, day adventures, guides– but in about 15 concise bulleted pages! It’s a snap to take my report, consider the select choices I present, and follow the clear links to make your reservations. We call it plug-and-play!

What sort of lodging does this report offer?

It’s sometimes rustic, often luxurious, but always unique! There are NO Marriotts here! Instead, there’re treehouses and cave hotels, houseboats and gulets and barges and dahaybiehs, historic guesthouses, castles and private cabins, sleeper trains and seaside villas, and private apartments too- even homestays, like with a Berber family in Morocco’s Atlas mountains or in a Quechuan village high in the Andes. Some is 2*. Other’s 5*. So there’s something for every budget.

What sort of activities are included in report?

I include ALL my favorites that, in my opinion, reveal what’s most special in an area– truffle hunting in Umbria with a farmer and his dog, Malay cooking class in historic Penang, a morning with a lobsterman in Maine, bike riding through hidden gardens of Key West, meeting the master glassblowers of Venice, driving a dogsled to an overnight in the Alaska Bush, spending a day on a family winery in Tuscany, hiking with my waterfall guru or swimming with manta rays in Hawaii, or what about this — meeting my gal in Soweto! She grew up there and is now Woman of the Year. She’ll show you where she grew up, introduce you to the neighbors, tell you history from the Goldrush to present day- even escort you on a shebeen crawl that night.

Those activities all sound pretty “out there”. That’s great, but what if I want to see typical things too?

You mean London’s Eye or Rome’s Colosseum?

I’ll show you how to pre-purchase timed-entry tickets so you can skip the lines! Want to see the Grand Canyon- ride the train there then sleep in a cabin on the rim? Maybe you’re looking for a great locally-run lodge on Santorini? Or a suggestion for a secluded Caribbean getaway? Need to figure out the fastest way to get from Charles de Gaulle airport to the Seine?

I can help you negotiate mainstream travel, too!

Some activities, like truffle hunting, sound pretty pricey. Will the report also include more affordable activities?

My reports suggest a broad range– from special treats, like hot air ballooning over Cappadocia or a privately guided day into bear country, …to inexpensive stuff like audio-tours at St Basils in Moscow …to even free stuff like a self- guided walking tour of Florence. In fact, for many excursions, I offer a variety of possibilities. For example, do you want to visit Stonehenge independently, driving your own rental car? Or jump on a bus and use an audio-tour? Or get picked up by private driver for a customized tour from London? Or maybe you want to see Stonehenge at sunrise? These are all possibilites that I can include in your report.

I’m a Foodie– what does the report offer me?

I’m a Foodie too! My motto is “if it doesn’t walk off my plate, I eat it!

Not only do I love to eat (and cook!) but I also believe passionately in the cultural value of food! All reports include suggestions to my favorite restaurants- some are swanky rooftop dining rooms, others are pub rooms from the 1600’s or 1-room trattorias– one place i know has just a single table! I also offer dinner parties in the home of a local! There’s one program with the “Cesarines” of Italy, and another one called Meeting The French in Paris. With Rare Finds Travel, you can follow local Farmers’ Markets from Cusco to Seward …join organized restaurant “crawls” from Rome to San Francisco …enjoy street food from Istanbul to Saigon …take a cooking classes! There’s a tiny school in the mountains of Thailand, a community program in Cape Town, a tortolloni Class in a Tuscan kitchen, and a private woman in Fez.

Did I say I love food?!

I like nature! Do you have any tips on encounters with whales and bears, volcanoes and rainforests.

Just check out my Pinterest page.

There’s a board on Bears, Awed By The Claws!, and another on Nature from the Road!

How unique are the offerings in the DIY Guides?

One client who traveled to London compared her trip planned by RFTD to the offerings in the Rick Steves’ guidebook.   She said “8 or the 10 things that we did with Rare Finds were not even in the Rick Steves book”. 

Yes, it’s true.  Rare Finds digs deeper and shares truly unique lodges and activities.

And one more big difference?   RFTD accepts no advertises or endorsements who “buy” our favor.   We promote lodges or guides simply because we love them and the superior experience that we had with them.

Does the report include a suggested itinerary?

YES! Are you wondering if you need 1 or 3 nights in Cinque Terre… If its worth stopping in Quito for just a single overnight… Why it takes 4 hours to drive the 40-mile Hana Highway… Or if there’s enough to do on Eastsr Island to justify a 5-night’ stay?

I understand that timing is a confusing issue for DIY travel planners, but I take that worry out of the equation! I include suggested itineraries in every report at no extra charge!

Have you personally tested out these lodges and activities?

YES I have! When you choose one of my suggestions, you can rest easy, knowing that I have explored with this guide, ridden on this vaporetto, kneaded dough in this kitchen, slept at this fondouk, and trusted this outfitter to take care of me out in the Alaskan Bush!

Tell me more about the ” links”. Exactly what sort of contact information can I expect in the report?

For hotels, I’ll give you the innkeepers name and email, and sometimes even her personal cell phone number. For a guide, I’ll give you his credentials, prices, email and phone info, and even testimonials from previous clients who have used him. For tours, I’ll give you the outfitter’s website, email, and usually the name of a person to help you.

Any other BONUSES or extras?

Wonder what’s the best time of year to go to a certain place? DON’T go to Thailand in monsoon season…. DO go to Belize in lobster season in Belize Have questions about money, from tipping guidelines to where to get the most efficient money exchange? Would you like recommendations for books to read and movies to watch to get you psyched for this trip?


What if I get a DIY Guide, then realize I want more help?

You can always upgrade to the next level if you decide you’d like more support. At Rare Finds Travel Design, I offer hourly consult ($125/hour with a 2 hour minimum) as well as full custom travel design. So if you start with the DIY Guide and decide you’d like more support or have more customized requests, you’ll get a full credit for the price of your original report, to apply to your upgraded service!

What if I want a destination that I don’t see on the list?

Just email your request to me:

I continue to create new reports all the time and would be happy to accommodate your request.

How long does it take to get my report and how do i receive it?

DIY Guides are available for immediate download.

How can I pay for this?

You can use any major credit card to pay via our secure online account.

It would make me feel better if I heard from others who have bought this.

Here are a couple of testimonials from past clients:

Renee, from Manalapan, NJ, wrote: “The information that you gathered for me in a few weeks would have taken me months of research! You have truly taken travel consulting to a new higher level”

Barbara, from Princeton, NJ, wrote: “The day at the quarry – not found in ANY guidebook!”

Crystal, from San Diego, CA, wrote: ”The most helpful thing was giving us our options and helping us narrow things down… we were overwhelmed with options when we started looking and it was helpful to have someone with experience giving us guidance”

To read more, go here.

I’ve never worked with Rare Finds Travel before. What’s my guarantee?

How about a worry-free, all-the-risk-is-on-me 100% Guarantee?
We have thrown all our knowledge, experience, and love into these guides.
We are so confident that they will be the perfect solution to your planning problem, that we offer a full refund within 7 days of purchase if you are not 100% happy.

I still am not sure what to do.

Try a free 20-min session with Melanie. You can ask questions about these reports, learn about my unique travel philosophy at RFTD, or just talk about your dream trip. Appointments are easy – we can meet by phone or skype, and even in person if you’re near central NJ.

Grab your appointment here!